How many times do we answer the questions “How are you today?” or “Do you like this?” or “What do you need?” with vague, empty, or untrue answers? How often do we not take people up on their “If there is anything I can do to help, let me know” offers?
Chances are if you like a lot of people, myself sometimes included, it’s too often.
For various reasons, many of us put up walls, give complacent, non-descriptive answers, rather than open up a can of worms or share more than was really wanted by the asker. Instead we keep some pain, heartache, and disappointment inside, just to ourselves. Even among close family and friends we can put on our happy faces when we are unhappy because we don’t want to be a burden, weigh other people down with our worries, or be pitied. We want to put on our game face and pretend like our life is coming up roses. I feel like so many of us are too okay with white lies, dishonesty, and falsehoods, because we always want to show the world only our very best selves. This is especially true online, where things have this tendency to be “Pinterest Perfect.”
But when we are transparent with others about how we really feel, what we really think, and what we really need and want, we can heal. We can receive help. We can become closer to solutions and to those we open ourselves to.
Why I Like Hearing the Bad
Many, many times over the years I have wished that more of my friends had personal blogs, and even that everyone had a blog. I wish this because I don’t love reading one sentence Facebook updates or seeing the slew of only “happy pictures” (which can contribute to Facebook making us into a liar). I really do want to know more about my friends than those one-line updates or humorous quips, and want to read about what my friends and family are really up to in their lives, and what their opinion behind all those articles they share is.
I want to know the bad stuff, mixed with the good, so I can still feel a part of their lives, no matter how far apart we live now. Because while I may know if you went to the zoo, bought a house, or had a baby, I don’t know about the hard day you had that one time, or your decision making process in buying a house, or how your pregnancy, birth, and postpartum have been going.
We all grow through hard times, because the only constant in life is change. And stuff happens. But, how can you share all those details in a short quip of a Facebook status, tweet, or Instagram picture? Thus, why I wish everyone had a simple family/life update blog, where there are no word limits, pictures are allowed, and emotions and thoughts can more articulately be spelled out.
But, even if everyone did have a blog, many of us would still resist putting down our true fears and hard moments. I belive part of that is because we all fear our friends don’t really want to hear about our Debbie Downer moments, right? I mean no one likes those pessimistic people who just complain about everything. Don’t we want to remove those negative/toxic people from our lives?
Perhaps these people are reaching out more than others because they need help more than others and they are risking their vulnerability and privacy in order to receive it. While endless complaining from others can be toxic to have in your life, I wish for more people to be honest. Because, I feel like the only truly toxic people in your life, or on your friends list, are those who criticize and judge you for sharing that you need help.
Stop Lying and Pretending
I encourage you to stop it. Stop hiding and start being transparent, humble, open, and honest. Ask for help when you need it. Don’t tough the road alone. Don’t try to keep your chin up when it’s just too hard to do.
Share the details of your life. Share your honest opinions. Express yourself.
I, for one, will NOT unfriend you. I will try to lift you up, help you, and encourage you. Because, chances are, I have been there too. If I haven’t, I might know someone else who has. And even if I don’t even know someone else who has, I at least know you, and care about you (or why else are we friends?) so I will at least pray for you.
If I don’t know that you are having a hard time with your newborn, or that you lost your job and money is tight, how can I help? If I don’t know that you suffered a miscarriage, got hurt in a car accident, lost your father, or got a difficult health diagnosis if you don’t share? How would I know that you are depressed, missing someone you love, feeling miserable, or wishing someone would just watch your kids for a day because you are beat? How would I know from those irregular, impersonal, happy pictures and statuses you post online? How can I know?
I want to know. Because we’re friends. Because I love you. Because I’m a Christian and I care.
Even if I am far away, I believe that God can never hear too many petitions on your behalf, and I would love to be one of your prayer warriors.
So tell me what I can do for you.
As you take these leaps of faith (and awkwardness) to break that perfect facade of social media, you will find comfort in the form of angels, to bless you, to lift you up, to love you. And sometimes all it takes to receive these messengers is to ask for them.
What Happened When I Was Honest and Open in a Hard Time
I remember when I wrote a very open, vulnerable post here on my blog. My husband and I were going through a very difficult time. He was just in a major car accident, which had totaled our one and only vehicle, and left him with a broken sternum, unable to work for weeks. We were already poor and barely managing to get by. We shared all of this online. But, when the one good thing also ended, our brand new pregnancy, in a miscarriage, I decided to share that too, even though it was private and personal and very hard.
By being vulnerable, I received so much uplift! People came out from everywhere to tell me about their miscarriages, about what helped them, about how they got through hard times, and that, most importantly, that they were praying for me.
Knowing that others were praying for me, loving me, thinking about me, and sincerely wanting to be that Christian neighbor and friend, make a tremendous difference in my outlook, my hope, and my grief.
Looking back at that time in our lives I see all the angels that came to minister unto us. We were so blessed to have wonderful friends, family, and strangers who lent us cars, watched our children, gave us money, prayed, gave out priesthood blessings, hugged us, and checked in on us.
And it’s because we told people we were having a hard time. Many people pray daily to be used an instrument in the Lord’s hands, to be an answer to prayers, but if they never know it’s you who’s been praying for a miracle, they may not know how to serve and to love you like you need.
I know that as I honestly share my imperfections, my heartaches, my worries, here on the blog, in real life, and on other social media platforms, that I have also been able to bless others. By sharing how I felt, how I overcame, and how I still struggle, I have helped others who felt like no one understood them. I have blessed them with faith, with hope. And sometimes just with an understanding ear.
So, please, let people into your life so they can bless you. We all need each other.
Do you consider yourself an open and honest person, or is this something that is hard for you? Do you think there is a need for honesty and transparency, especially online?